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8th Aug 2022
One morning back in December 2021, 14 year old James from the Wirral had taken ill and mum Georgia was unable to wake him.
James was unresponsive in his bed, had turned black and blue and his eyes had rolled to the back of his head. Terrified, mum Georgia called for nine year old brother Alfie, who heroically went and fetched the phone for Georgia to call A&E and then assisted when the ambulance crew arrived. James was rushed to his local hospital where there was a medical team prepared and waiting for him. After various scans and tests, it was determined that James had sepsis, a life threatening reaction to an infection, a collapsed lung and a chest infection. James was struggling to breathe and mum was given the devastating news that he would have to be put on life support.
James was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit at Alder Hey. After 3 and a half weeks, his condition improved and he was moved to ward 4B but again, James struggled to breathe and was having uncontrolled seizures. He was moved back to ICU. Mum Georgia said, “It was an absolutely terrifying time for us all. At one point, his heart stopped. I will never forget the two nurses that stayed with me after their 13 hour shift, to make sure I was ok.”
James stabilised and was diagnosed with Autoimmune encephalitis, a type of brain inflammation where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues in the brain or spinal cord. In such a short space of time, James lost the ability to walk and talk. Doctors at Alder Hey sought expert advice from around the world. Fast forward 7 months and against all odds, James is starting to regain some of his speech and movement and is getting ready for home leave.
Mum Georgia continued “James has a saying ‘Never give up’ and ‘family is everything’ and this incredible strength and determination is helping James defy all odds. James’ communication is slowly improving and I can see him fighting to become the boy he once was. So much has changed in just a few months but James still is and always will be extremely special. I am so proud of him and his brother Alfie, who helped to get him to A&E on that fateful day. Alder Hey have become our family and I just want to say to other families out there going through similar struggles, that you are not alone. Never give up, you’re stronger than you think and do rely on your second family for that support, I’m so glad I did and every day I’m so proud of how far we’ve come. I never thought we’d be preparing for home leave, but here we are. James wants to become a YouTuber one day and who knows what the future will hold for my incredible boy.”
Sepsis is life threatening and can be hard to spot. Recognise the signs.
Alder Hey Children's Charity